If you’ve attended the 9 AM service at Middleburg Heights campus, you’ve probably seen Mary and I sitting in the front row on the right side with my Mom (shown in the middle in the photo above, at our family reunion this past summer in PA).
Mom is currently struggling with COVID-19 and pneumonia. The trajectory is downward, and her doctor does not see it reversing course. Unless a miracle occurs, it appears that Mom will be seeing Jesus face-to-face in the coming days. We are grateful she has been calm and peaceful, with no anxiety or fear and very minimal discomfort throughout her illness.
Mom is in her home, per her wishes, and surrounded by the love of her family. Five of her nine children and some spouses are in town, and the other four have gathered with us via Zoom. We’ve sung dozens of hymns and choruses, shared memories, and alternated between tears and laughter. We sense the Lord Jesus with us. Thank you for your prayers for Mom and all of her 78 grandchildren and great-grandchildren (and many spouses as well).
When our son-in-law Xavier called via FaceTime Thursday morning, he read a few verses of Scripture to Mom. She actually prayed a fairly lengthy heartfelt prayer for him and all of her grandchildren, asking for the power of the Holy Spirit to rest on them and for the Lord’s blessing. Super moving! We were totally shocked to hear her lead out in prayer…the most words she has spoken the last 2-3 days.
Later in the day Thursday, we listened to a video recording from Tuesday night where 34 or her grandkids all called in and shared memories of Grandma and what they love/admire about her; not sure Mom could hear it in her state of consciousness, but it’s so special to hear all of the affirmation for her. Inspiration from someone who has lived a life devoted to Jesus and seeing and loving others like he does.
We feel a deep sadness at saying goodbye, but we stand on the steady foundation of God’s Word, knowing that “to depart and be with Christ…is better by far” (Philippians 1:23). As Mom and I have often affirmed together, “Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17). We are confident that Jesus will walk with us through these days, just as He has for Mom’s 86 years on this earth. So, it is a privilege this week for us to walk Mom to heaven’s door.
We have tons of special memories with our loving mom these past decades. We share such admiration for her devotion to Jesus, her love for Dad and us kids (and her Grace family!), and her desire to serve others. This spring marks 60 years since my parents came to Grace as the first full-time pastoral couple. Grace at that time was a struggling church of 40 or so people meeting in an elementary school. Mom and Dad invested their lives here in Cleveland, helping many find their way to Jesus and follow him. I am just one of many of those who were so blessed.
Your prayers and notes have meant a lot. I’m sorry that I can’t respond to all of them, but each one of you has been an encouragement as you’ve stood with us.
– Pastor Jonathan and Mary